The USS New Jersey unleashes firepower on Beirut 1984
We recently received an email from an American military family stationed in Germany. The writer was Chelsea Morris, wife of a TWS member. She wrote about her family’s visit to a memorial in Belgium honoring the thousands of soldiers who died in the Battle of the Bulge.
Before getting to the content of her email, we’d like to give our readers a little background of the battle that cost more American lives than any other in all of World War II.
In late 1944, in the wake of the allied forces’ successful D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, it seemed as if the Second World War was all but over. Rumors spread that soldiers would be home by Christmas. So certain this would be the case, troops were not issued sufficient winter gear. But the offensive that had liberated most of France and Belgium slowed down upon reaching the German border. Americans dug into a pocket of eastern Belgium and Luxembourg with much of it in the densely forested Ardennes region.
On a misty winter morning on December 16, 1944, American and other Allied forces were caught off-guard when German troops and nearly 1,000 tanks launched a counteroffensive that was intended to cut through the Allied forces in a manner that would turn the tide of the war in Hitler’s favor.
Seeking to split the Allied armies, the Germans struck along a seventy-five-mile stretch of the front characterized by dense woods and few roads, held by four inexperienced and battle-worn American divisions stationed there for rest and resupply.
After a day of hard fighting, the Germans broke through the American front, surrounding most of an infantry division, seizing key crossroads, and advancing their spearheads toward the Meuse River, the appearance of a large protrusion or bulge, the name by which the battle would forever be known.
Stories spread of the massacre of soldiers and civilians at Malmedy and Stavelot, of paratroopers dropping behind the lines, and of English-speaking German soldiers, disguised as Americans, capturing critical bridges, cutting communications lines, and spreading rumors. Those caught were executed as spies by a firing squad.
A crucial German shortage of fuel and the gallantry of American troops fighting and dying in the frozen forests of the Ardennes proved fatal to Hitler’s ambition to snatch, if not victory, at least a draw with the Allies in the west. Lieutenant General George S. Patton’s remarkable feat of turning the Third Army ninety degrees from Lorraine to relieve the besieged town of Bastogne, held by the 101st Airborne Division, was the key to stopping the German counteroffensive.
The Battle of the Bulge was the costliest action ever fought by the U.S. Army, which suffered over 100,000 casualties. The battle also severely depleted Germany’s war-making resources in both men and equipment, signaling their cause was lost.
Within a few years after the war ended, World War II monuments and memorials were erected everywhere in eastern Belgium, recalling flash points in the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German assault on the Western Front in World War II. Bastogne gets the most visitor attention, because of the drama of the rescue.
A popular tourist destination is the Mardasson Memorial located near Bastogne. This monument, in the form of a five-pointed American star, was designed to honor the memory of the 76,890 American soldiers killed, wounded or missing in the Battle of the Bulge. Among recent visitors there was an American military family stationed in Germany.
Chelsea Morris’ Email
S1c Humphrey Bogart
Veterans – view more military profiles of famous people on www.togetherweserved.com/twslanding)
Short Bio: Many young men were anxious to join the fighting overseas and show the Huns a thing or two; to Humphrey Bogart, it sounded like a grand adventure. He would probably get to go to Paris, meet some French girls. Soon after returning from school, Humphrey went down to the receiving ship USS Granite State and joined the Navy, officially ending his formal schooling.
Shadow Box: http://navy.togetherweserved.com/profile/220102
SFC John E. Quirk
US Army (Ret)
Shadow Box: http://army.togetherweserved.com/bio/John.Quirk
Veterans – read more stories like the following when you join www.togetherweserved.com)
WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, I was six years old. We were at War, but it was nonetheless, a fun time for a boy to grow in. During the war years, I believe I saw every movie Hollywood put out about the War, and my heroes very soon became US Servicemen, regardless of Service; I loved them all. When I got to high school, I was a natural for Army ROTC, and I enrolled as a Freshman. I learned marksmanship as a member of the School’s ROTC Small Bore Rifle Team, and I Captained that team for most of my high school tenure. In my Senior year, I joined the USMCR, and began giving a lot of thought to the Marines after graduation. However, When we were almost through Senior year, a good friend, with whom I sang in a pop quartet, asked me if I would consider enlisting in the Army on the “Buddy Plan” with him. His brother was a good friend of the Army Recruiter. I thought about that the whole Summer after graduation and, in October 1954, I found myself with my friend on the way to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas for Basic Training with the 5th Armored Division. We had also received a guarantee of AIT in a Signal Corps MOS.
BRIEFLY, WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?
We were assigned to the Signal School, at Fort Monmouth,New Jersey, for the title Countermeasures Search and Analysis Specialist. It was a fourteen week course,and was not easy, but we both hung in and graduated in late Spring 1955. After what seemed like months, we finally received our assignment orders, after award of our Secret clearances. So, on the 4th of July, 1955, we flew from McGuire AFB,NJ to Frankfurt, West Germany, and from there, an overnight train ride to the Big, Mysterious, and somewhat eerie city of Berlin.
The Berlin Tunnel was BIG NEWS in May of 1956. I had just arrived back at Fort Monmouth, NJ assigned as a “field-trained” instructor for the “Countermeasures, Search and Analysis” students. The course was still taught there at Fort Monmouth. On a morning in May I turned on the old Dave Garraway Show and, lo and behold, there was our Rudow site on camera and Garraway was excitedly talking about a “spy tunnel” discovered by the East Germans. I was flabbergasted but of course, with OPSEC firmly in mind, I could tell no one about my involvement with the tunnel .
When my high school buddy and I arrived in Frankfurt, no one told us anything except that we were going to Berlin. We boarded the night train, on which we actually shared an expensive compartment, and off to the North and East we went. Sometime during the night the train stopped, and we were rudely awakened and told to stand by and have our orders ready. Foreign soldiers, didn’t know if they were East Germans or Russians, but later leaned that they were, indeed, USSR, boarded the train and,in short order, were in our compartment, demanding to see our “papers!” I don’t need to tell you that we were both scared stiff and could just stand there in our skivvies and hand over our orders in stunned silence. They stamped their version of “OK” on the orders and the train was allowed to proceed to Berlin. WOW!
When we arrived at the Berlin Bahnhof, it was exactly as if we we had stepped off the train onto a World War II movie set. The whistles and cacophony of other sounds was instant deja vous to my childhood days in the movie theaters. We were both awe-struck and wanted to get into the foreign atmosphere as quickly as possible. We attempted this by buying German coffees and cigarettes; neither of which tasted good but what the heck, they were “European.” We found our way to a military counter where, at least, we recognized the uniforms. A sergeant there looked at our orders, scratched his head, and asked a captain to step over. The captain seemed perplexed as well, but he made a decision: “Send them over to Andrews Barracks! Maybe someone over there has heard of the 9539th Signal Service Team.” At Andrews, everyone seemed equally confused. No one had ever heard of the unit and, of course, had no idea of where it was located. After several hours of guessing and postulating, one of the sergeants said: “I’ll bet its that spook outfit out in Rudow.” Voila! We were shortly in a military sedan on our way to Rudow. We pulled into a sleepy little farm community and hung a left onto a tarmac road heading out of town. In short order, we could see the barbed wire fences, the guard booths, and a rooftop antenna field, coming up at the end of the road. We pulled up at the gate and were met by an armed PFC in fatigues, who immediately got on the horn; that call produced a Signal Corps Lieutenant Colonel in khaki uniform who asked us for our orders. Meanwhile, the sedan we had arrived in made a U turn and sped away from us. We reported to the Colonel and he said very matter-of-factly, “Oh yes, we’ve been expecting you for weeks. Welcome to the 9539th T.U. Signal Service Team” and we entered the gate and went behind the rows of wire to our new home away from home.
We soon learned that it was a small unit, about 45 total personnel. The officer who met us was the C.O., and, at the time, the only other officers were a very boyish-looking 2d LT and a much older Chief Warrant Officer. At the time, there was no first sergeant and one unit clerk did all the administrative stuff. The Colonel sat us down and explained the rules of the game which we had just joined. The unit was operating a Top Secret “Project,” as well as a”cover” ELINT operation. It was so sensitive, that the unit had its own mess sergeant and cooks and mechanics, and pulled all its own guard duty in addition to either “Project” work or, the “cover” ELINT operation. He told us that, due to OPSEC, he could not tell us anything about the “Project,” but, as time went on, if we thought we had it figured out, to come tell him and he would let us know, at least, if we were correct. As I said, only about 45 men, but so compartmentalized, that each unit function had its own “enclave,” if you will. I was extremely interested in the “Project,” and spent a lot of time thinking what it could conceivably be. As luck would have it, though, thanks to compartmentalization, I was assigned to the “cover” ELINT operation and my high school buddy went into the “Project.”
In short order, I found myself on the guard roster and, in my free time (aside from ELINT and guard duty) I was road-tested on all assigned vehicles, quarter-tons, sedan, 3/4 ton, and two and a half ton trucks, and even forklifts. Once this was accomplished, I found myself either driving or riding shotgun on frequent trips across Berlin to the Gatow Royal Air Force (RAF) Base. The trips were always made in Class A uniforms with sidearms. If riding as shotgun, an M-1 carbine was added to the .45 caliber pistol. The CO always happened to be the officer-in-charge when I was along. Don’t know if any other officers, (we later acquired two captains as well as two SFC’s) ever made the trip, but each trip I went on featured the CO as Boss. He always had a side arm as well. On each trip we carried several large packages, always the same shape, rounded on both sides, and wrapped in plain, brown wrapping paper. These packages were delivered to the RAF at Gatow for immediate air delivery to London, and then on to Washington.
We had a very nice dayroom and a well-stocked refrigerator, loaded with Beck’s and Tuborg beer. When we were off duty and not on pass, that is where we congregated. I began noticing strangers in odds and ends of uniforms, coming and going. They were usually good at paying for their drinks whenever they were in the dayroom. As it turned out, these were either British SIS (MI6) or CIA people or equipment contractors of one sort or another.
After several weeks, we had a unit meeting and were introduced to a Brigadier General. It was kept very informal, but we were told that the 9539th TU Signal Service Team no longer existed! We were no longer Signal Corps but had been integrated into the Army Security Agency (ASA) as the 22nd Army Security Detachment, 7222 Defense Unit. The only thing that actually changed besides our address, was that the cord worn on overseas caps had to be changed. Where the cord had been orange and white for the Signal Corps, it was now light blue and white for the ASA. After that, if we were seen in Class A’s, we were often taken for Infantry, which wore a solid light blue cord. The Brigadier General officially welcomed all of us to the ASA and said we were doing a terrific job, especially–and this made us in the ELINT operation feel really proud — the ELINT “cover” was nevertheless a fully functioning ELINT site and, as such, had logged more previously unknown signals in the quarter just finished, than any other ASA site in Europe! How about that?
As I implied, we began receiving additional personnel. These new guys, at last, gave me all the information I needed to really figure out what was going on in the “Project.” One of the newbies was a heating, air conditioning and ventilation specialist, who was, on several occasions, seen with wet sand on his legs from the knees down. Anther newbie was a linguist, trained at Monterey, in the Russian language. The wet sand strongly indicated that this new guy was digging somewhere under the surface soil since it was dark loam and not sand, at least not on the surface. What else would a Russian linguist do except, of course, interpret Russian. This convinced me that the “Project” was an underground tunnel and the linguist’s working in the “Project”, coupled with the shape of all the packages we regularly delivered to Gatow, strongly suggestive of stacked cans of audio tape, further convinced me that we had tapped into some sort of underground communication lines, probably Russian and East German telephone communications. I never did tell the CO what I had surmised, but from then on, went about doing my jobs and feeling rather smug.
The security and sensitivity of the missions of the unit were such that we were forbidden to ride the S-Bahn (elevated train) or the U-Bahn (subway), could not go into the East Zone under any circumstances, and could not even have overnight passes to Berlin. Passes ran from about 1800 hours to about 0100 hours. We rode into town in a unit vehicle, usually a 3/4 ton, 2-1/2 ton or sedan, depending on the numbers of men on pass. The drop-off point was near the Kaiser Wilhelm Church and the pick-up point was near Templehof. Time on pass was short but we always managed to cram a lot of fun into those short hours. The ratio of young women to young men in Berlin in 1955-1956 was, if I remember correctly, around 7 to 1, so finding enjoyable companionship was an easy thing. Most of us soon acquired girlfriends whom we usually saw when we went to Berlin. I was no exception there, but I have to admit that I met a lot of lovely young women and truly enjoyed myself. Some of the regular hangouts were the “Casa Leon” on Karl-Marx Strasse and the KBS (Kleines Ballhaus) in Schoeneberg. If we had money in our pockets or just wanted a little class for an evening, we went to the Resi Bar (on Hasenheide) which featured a full orchestra, two floors of tables or booths and a telephone and message pneumatic tube along with the lighted number at each table or booth. When we went to the Resi, it didn’t take long for the phone to ring or the message tube to make the swoosh sound of an incoming message.
A vivid memory from Berlin concerns a dumb-kid stunt that I and a friend pulled, which could easily have set off an international incident. The unit had, before I joined it, acquired two German Shepherd guard dogs, Aldo and Harris. Aldo was sort of on the scruffy side with a temperament to match. Harris, on the other hand, was a beautiful tan and black shepherd with a great disposition. In fact, Harris was so friendly,that his value as a guard dog was probably moot. Anyway, Harris had gone missing and had been gone for about a week. One very early morning as I was finishing up an overnight tour of rear guard shack duty, I heard a dog bark from the other side of the border. For whatever reason, I was certain that it was Harris, so I trained my glasses on the fence line and eastward and, as I was watching, a change of guard for the Vopos (volks polizei) drove up and they had a dog with them. It was, I was sure, Harris. I watched as they had Harris jump out of the truck and then back into the truck and it was then that I decided to get our dog back from the Vopos.
About this time, my friend, Al (who had also been in our AIT class at Fort Monmouth) came by and I called him over. I explained that our dog, Harris, was in the Vopo’s truck, which was still sitting near the fence line. Al decided to join me in this mission and we walked up to the border and I yelled at the Vopos “Sie haben meinen Hund!” One of them yelled back “Nein, habe ich nicht!” By the way, I forgot to mention that I was carrying an M-1 carbine with a full magazine, because I had just come off guard duty. So, Al and I, ARMED, crossed the border and confronted the Vopos. When we got to their truck, I called out “Harris, come here, boy!” In a flash, Harris cleared the tailgate of the truck and ran to Al and me wagging his tail like mad and licking our hands. I said again, “Das ist mein Hund!” and, with that, Al, Harris and I turned around and walked back to our fence line and the Vopos just stood there, gaping, open-mouthed.
All this had occurred under the unbelieving eyes of our CO and First Sergeant (who had only been with us a short time). Needless to say, we got a real dressing down but, before the CO was done yelling at us, the First Shirt couldn’t stop himself from laughing and, soon, the CO was also snickering. It was only then that Al and I truly thought about what we had done and were more than a bit shaken up. The First Sergeant finally said: “OK, we’re going to let you two skate this time – but don’t you ever do such a GD thing again. You two might have started World War III! Is that clear?” In unison we both answered “Yes, First Sergeant!” We, in fact, never suffered any disciplinary action because of our “rescue” and, moreover, became sort of short-term heroes to the group. This occurred more than fifty four years ago, but it is still vivid in my memory.
When my orders to return home arrived, I was happy to be going home, but also sad to be returning to rather hum-drum stateside duty, after the electricity of Berlin, and I have often thought about those days. They were so long ago – I’ll turn 75 in less than a month – and I was only 19 when I went to Berlin. As I’ve aged, I’ve come to the realization that I was, indeed, a part of American Cold War history.
The “sinking” of a truck in “Operation Petticoat” was inspired by real incident that happened in 1944. On August 9th, USS Bowfin (SS-287) followed four ships into Minami Daito Harbour. As she fired her six bow torpedoes at the moored ships, hitting three and sinking two of them, one torpedo went astray and hit a pier. A bus parked on it was blown up and thrown into the water by the explosion.
By Andrew Lubin
It’s called it a Dignified Transfer, which is Pentagon-ese for bringing home the body of one of our young men. On my recent embed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, I flew there from Camp Bastion on a cargo flight. The plane was virtually empty: four passengers and me, the small Air Force crew and, covered by an American flag, the remains of a serviceman killed that morning by an IED in Helmand Province. The military’s goal is to bring our dead back home within 48 hours, and this was the first leg of such a journey.
While I know his identity and how he died, I didn’t know him personally. After 12 embeds, however, I’ve met hundreds of young men like him; under 25, proud of his unit, usually a couple of tattoos, enthusiastic, friendly, willing to share his last bottle of water with you, and eager for me to tell the American public that “we’re doing some good things here.”
Usually flights into Kandahar are lively as the troops and private contractors are heading home from here. People are relaxed, reading paperbacks, listening to their iPods, or trying to talk. But not today; the only sound was that of the plane’s engines. Most of our group had their heads down. When I saw someone move, it was one of the Air Force crew adjusting the flag draping the young man.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the flag. Unlike 99 percent of the media who cover the war, I’m not an impartial observer; my son is active-service with multiple deployments under his belt. I know too many Marines in this age group not to be affected by this young man’s sad trip home; I imagined my son or one of his friends coming home the same way. How would I react I wondered (as do many of us parents of deployed sons) if they came and knocked on my front door?
After we landed, our plane came to a halt in a corner of the airfield, away from the daily bustle of troops, contractors and cargo pallets. The rear of the plane opened to reveal a small honor guard assembled to ready him for his final flight home. As our small group prepared to walk off the plane through the forward hatch, a Marine Chief Warrant Officer and I lagged behind to pay our respects to the young man. The Gunner removed his Kevlar and bowed his head, and I, a non-practicing Roman Catholic, offered a sign of the cross before the Air Force crew gently pushed us to depart.
I wanted to stay and watch the ceremony, but with one of the crew shaking his head, I grabbed my bag and hurried to catch up to our group. Walking to the terminal all I could think about was how fiercely proud I hope his family is of him. Oh, young man, you’ll be missed.
Andrew Lubin is a foreign policy-defense analyst and author specializing in military, foreign policy, and defense issues. From Ramadi to Fallujah to Garmsir, he’s brought America the stories of our deployed men and women in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, and Beirut.
(Veterans – view more military profiles of famous people on www.togetherweserved.com/twslanding)Short Bio: In 1943, Bronson joined the United States Army Air Forces and served as an aircraft gunner in the 760th Flexible Gunnery Training Squadron, and in 1945 as a B-29 Superfortress crewman with the 39th Bombardment Group based on Guam.
Went on 25 Combat Missions as a Tail Gunner on the B-29’s.
CWO3 Steven Carriere
U.S. Coast Guard
(Veterans – record your own Military Service Story at www.togetherweserved.com at no charge)
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?
I graduated high school in 1984 and attended college for two years pursuing business and retail management curriculum. I had a very hard time adapting to the new found independence of college life so in 1986 I dropped out and bounced around working some retail jobs on the East and West coasts. After returning from California, I couldn’t get my old job back as an assistant manager with a drug store chain and had more recently been fired from a construction job. I started selling books door to door and working in radio advertising in late 1988. In early 1989 I found out I was going to be a father.
At that point I knew the path I was headed on wasn’t going to be a good source of support for my new family. I contemplated joining the services for some time and when I heard about the Coast Guard, I was immediately intrigued with the humanitarian and law enforcement aspect of the service. I signed up in February 1989 and the rest is history.
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK.
I started out in recruit training at Cape May, New Jersey in Uniform 130 and switched over to the Ceremonial Detail as a member of the rifle drill team.
After recruit training I was assigned to CGC Harriet Lane (WMEC-903), and promoted to Seaman (E-3). In February I attended Quartermaster “A” School in Yorktown, Virginia, and upon graduation, promoted to Quartermaster 3rd Class (QM3), and transferred to USCGC White Heath (WLM-545), a coastal buoy tender, in Boston, Massachusetts.
In 1992, I was promoted to QM2 and transferred to Key West, Florida aboard USCGC SHEARWATER (WSES-3), my first independent duty tour. USCGC SHEARWATER was decommissioned in early 1994, so I transferred to a staff job in Boston. I was promoted to QM1 in July 1995, and in November I returned home to Maine for the first time since joining the Coast Guard, assigned to USCGC JEFFERSON ISLAND (WPB-1340) in Portland ME as operations petty officer.
In 1997, I transferred back to Key West, taking another 110′ patrol boat assignment on USCGC SITKINAK (WPB-1329). After my tour there, I wanted to stay in Key West and was assigned as a search and rescue operations controller at Group Key West.
In the spring of 2001, I transferred back to New England to my third patrol boat, USCGC GRAND ISLE (WPB-1338). While there, I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer in May 2002, and transferred to CG Group Boston as the Operations Center Supervisor. The Coast Guard merged the Quartermaster and Boatswain Mate ratings, and taking advantage of the opportunity to pursue my first command tour, I left Group Boston and was assigned to USCGC VASHON (WPB 1308) as Executive Petty Officer. VASHON was a former 110′ patrol boat converted to a 123′ as part of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater Project. I left in October 2006 to return to Maine for a brief tour at Sector Northern New England, South Portland, Maine as boarding officer and a member of the Response Division.
In June 2007, I was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer and was assigned to Boat Forces Center, in Yorktown, Virginia as the Assistant Chief of Afloat Training Operations. In August 2009, I short toured again, taking an afloat assignment as the First Lieutenant on board USCGC GALLATIN (WHEC-271) in Charleston, South Carolina. I served three years aboard, helping the crew bring her back to service after nearly two years of dry dock and pier side maintenance. GALLATIN finally sailed in the mid-late summer of 2011, nearly two years after I reported aboard, and her impact was immediate. We earned the Battle “E” ribbon during our 2011 Cutter Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART), and TSTA (Tailored Ship’s Training Availability) periods in Mayport, FL, then went on to record at least two huge cocaine seizures and one marijuana seizure during that first patrol. The morale couldn’t have been any higher during that period; all the hard work the previous and current crew had put into making GALLATIN the hardest working “GAL” in the fleet paid off immensely!
After two more patrols on board, I was promoted to CWO3 in March 2012, and transferred to USCGC Willow (WLB 202) in July 2012, my first buoy tender in over 20 years, where I am currently stationed.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
I did not personally receive any awards for valor. The majority of awards I have received have been unit or Coast Guard awards in response to surge operations, such as ‘Operation Frontier Shield,’ ‘Operation Able Manner’ ‘Operation Uphold Democracy,’ or in response to humanitarian events, such as the Haitian migration operations in the early to mid-1990?s, 9-11, and Hurricane Katrina.
I have received several personal awards, including Commendation Medals, Achievement Medals, and Letter of Commendations, for personal performance in the course of duties.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
Definitely 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina stand out the most.
I was aboard the GRAND ISLE as we pulled into the harbor on September 12th. My cutter was not the actual first one on the scene, as we had just left NYC the day before and were pulling into Gloucester as the attacks happened. We didn’t waste a lot of time turning around and getting back underway, however, and made it back to the Lower Battery that evening.
The first night of patrol along lower Manhattan and the Hudson River were mind numbing, seeing and smelling the smoke, fuel, burning acrid smells of metal, concrete, and anything else that burned or collapsed. All of the thick smoke just hung over the harbor like a blanket. From our initial vantage point we could see the huge rubble piles, vehicles and fire trucks that were completely destroyed. The massive destruction, loss of life, and seeing all of that first hand while being there knowing people were looking to us for comfort and strength was very overwhelming. I can remember at times, after standing many hours on watch, or finally getting a break from all of the security escorts for humanitarian supplies delivery, finally just taking a breath and wondering why and how this all could have happened. There were times that I almost felt guilty because there were so many people directly affected by what happened and it also felt like we couldn’t help people fast enough, because of the massive expanse of destruction and damage there was to clean up. After a few days, we ended up being assigned to sit off of the UN building as a security presence, and later as a security platform off of the Indian Point power plant.
A close second would have to be Cuban migrant operations. When I was first assigned to Key West in 1993, the FWFD [Feet Wet Feet Dry] Policy had not yet been implemented, so we could pick migrants up at sea and bring them to the United States. It was heart wrenching to see young children and babies in these leaky, dangerous rafts. They were very thankful that we were able to rescue them. But I often wondered for the dozens of kids and families we rescued at sea, how many never made it? It drove home the seriousness of conditions in Cuba and was a stark reminder of how desperate people will go to have a better life, and reminded me even more that I am very fortunate to live in a country where neither my feelings nor speech will ever be repressed, regardless of whether I agree or disagree with someone. Furthermore, I am grateful to live in a country where I can choose to serve, instead of being forced to do something against my will.
Finally, I have wonderful memories of all of my temporary assignments aboard other cutters. I was very fortunate to have sailed on board CGC EAGLE (WIX 2) twice in my career, the first time in October 1991, and the second in September 2000, helping to train the Coast Guard’s future officers during Officer Candidate Cruises. I met many wonderful people during both short trips and enjoyed some very memorable port calls, including Washington DC, Gloucester, MA, and Yorktown, VA. I’ve also had the opportunities to serve out of rate when I was a Boatswain Mate, using my operations center skills on board CGC DALLAS in 2004 during Operation Uphold Democracy.
IF YOU RECEIVED ANY MEDALS FOR VALOR OR AWARDS FOR SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT, PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW THESE WERE EARNED.
I did not personally receive any awards for valor. The majority of awards I have received have been unit or Coast Guard awards in response to surge operations, such as ‘Operation Frontier Shield,’Operation Able Manner,’ ‘Operation Uphold Democracy,’ or in response to humanitarian events, such as the Haitian migration operations in the early to mid 1990’s, 9-11, and Hurricane Katrina.
I have received several personal awards, including Commendation Medals, Achievement Medals, and Letter of Commendations, for personal performance in the course of duties.
Easy Company survivors William Guarnere & Edward “Babe” Heffron visit the American Cemetery in Normandy, France to pay respects to their fallen brothers. (cira 2013)
Guarnere died in March of 2014 and Heffron in December of 2013